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Landfill director warns: Bag your trash to help stop the spread of disease

Trash and waste haulers are asking people who might be ill or in self-quarantine to be mindful and properly bag trash.

Residents should put out only bagged trash — not loose — to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for the health and safety of residents, trash haulers hands, truckers, and landfill and transfer station workers, said Jason Yorks, director of Lycoming County Resource Management Services at the landfill office in Brady Township.

That is because the Centers for Disease Control has indicated the virus may be active and communicable for up to three days while it remains on materials such as the surface of trash and recyclables, Yorks said.

Efforts to control the spread of the virus have impacted the way trash is getting collected and disposed of.

That has a valuable lesson for the average individual and family.

“My thinking is, if a household has a person with the virus or someone in self-quarantine, it should be mindful of others downstream of the waste and bag it up properly to prevent exposure,” Yorks said.

The landfill serves a six-county region including: Lycoming, Union, Snyder, Columbia, Montour, and Northumberland counties, he said.

Efforts to reduce any transmission include ways to minimize interaction between people coming to the landfill and those working there.

“We’re now having the haulers come in and not sign a pad; the weigh masters do the signature,” Yorks said.

Additionally, the general public and commercial vendors are given limited access into the office.

Employee safety and protecting their families from any exposure the top consideration.

“The situation is fluid and changes by the hour,” he said.

Recycling changes have taken place and will remain in effect until April 1, Yorks said.

Lycoming County commissioners ordered the recycling collection stopped. It will be reassessed on April 1, Yorks said.

“Yes, people are upset,” Yorks said. “Most are taking about holding onto it (the recyclables),” he said. “They have to understand it is for the safety of employees and their safety,” he said.

Waste haulers are considered essential businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, according to Gov. Tom Wolf.

They are going to keep picking up and hauling trash whether there is an emergency and when it is lifted, according to a spokeswoman at Fred Hamm Inc., of Jersey Shore.

Trash haulers typically wear gloves, the Hamm employee said.

“They are wearing them and dealing with similar issues such as some customers throwing trash in cans unbagged,” some bagged improperly and spilling contents and some doing their part to make it easier on the haulers, she said.

Those bringing in their own trash hauls are discouraged from doing so, Yorks said.

The landfill employees work with waste every day, whether an outbreak or not, the way garbage is handled is carefully, by use of gloves and with some accounts paid for on a monthly basis with no physical exchanges, he said.

The system has a “small family over 80 licensed haulers,” he said. “Hire one of them.”

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